What you can do as an agency to get more sustainable clients
Imagine that you have gotten hold of a dream project. From your green dream client you always wanted to work with. Imagine how you feel when you get up in the morning and know “Today I’m working the way I always wanted to”.
As a private person you are green, eco, sustainable, whatever you want to call it, but you also want to live it out in your job. As a designer. Or as the owner of a digital agency. You already separate garbage in the office, hardly print anything and donate here and there to NGOs. That’s all great, but maybe you still need a little more.
What does the young sustainability start-up scene do different
When we talk about sustainability, we are always talking about ecological, social and societal issues that play a role. The start-up scene of the last 5 years has really moulted. New social businesses are springing up around every corner, trying to make the messed up supply chains fair and sustainable.
They go a few steps further than it has been done before. They go deeper. Both in their corporate forms and with their products, their marketing, their internal structures. Cooperatives are being created, there are no longer any fixed job positions, hierarchies and control is almost completely eliminated, supply chains are being made comprehensible, new materials for products are being created and donations are directly linked to the purchase of products.
What can we learn from that?
All stones want to be turned over. Even those of an agency. And if you want to attract clients who change something in the market, then it’s great if you do exactly that.
Not standing still.
Is your product sustainable?
Let’s say you are part of a web agency. So product are for example UX architecture (at best), UI design, content creation, illustrations, development, SEO, analytics, consulting, etc.
And now think about how sustainable each piece of the puzzle is. How “green” is the UX architecture, how “eco” is the SEO consulting, how “sustainable” is the design? Maybe they are already sustainable in individual pieces. The main question is how much data the product produces or saves.
Example: User Experience
User experience architecture alone brings something green with it when it eliminates dark patterns and unnecessary click paths and funnels, thus guiding users to their direct destination. But UX can also backfire from an ecological point of view when hundreds of images and videos are integrated on the site and files are sent from the system (e.g. large invoices) via e-mail.
SEO can also be eco, because with good keyword optimization your website will only be displayed to users who really want the product or information. It is not even shown to users where the website or shop cannot help. This saves clicks and thus energy and CO2. But, if there are three different trackers installed on the site, it is a lot less sustainable, because three trackers collect data, increase the amount of data on the site, send requests and reduce the loading time.
Example: Content creation
Content creation can be green if the shop, portal or website informs people about what is fair, sustainable and better for planet and people. In other words, providing the user with knowledge. About the products, about the business, about the brand. Content, on the other hand, is not so proper if unnecessary videos are created and displayed on autoplay.
So there are definitely sustainable elements in the individual products. But this does not make them sustainable as a whole. What do these products contribute to? Can you even combine your products with planting trees? Maybe you have some brilliant ideas for that.
Is your work ethic sustainable?
When you approach clients, do you talk to them about ecological sustainability? Do you see sustainability as part of the agency values? As part of the saleable product? As part of the company value? For designers alone, there are several manifestos that can be signed and thus green values for their own work.
Some of them are the Copenhagen letter, the AGD Charta for sustainable design, the Oslo Manifesto and the Sustainable Web Manifesto. And all of them are great. Each one a bit different. Differently great.
And now just try this. Imagine our planet Earth is a stakeholder of the project.
She is a target customer.
What would she say about the product?
What needs would she have?
Are your workflows sustainable?
Do you use a cloud to work? Do you write endless e-mails back and forth internally and use whatever kind of tools?
Clouds have greatly simplified our life in agencies. We can send data back and forth quickly. But sometimes one version less would be enough. Or decluttering. And a greener cloud (Dropbox and Adobe are not, Nextcloud is, Microsoft is okay).
And then there are the digital tools. Video conferencing with Zoom? Also works with Jitsi (via fairmeeting.net) or BigBlueButton. Sending newsletters with Mailchimp? It also works better with other providers. Messaging via Slack? Also works with Mattermost on its own instance. Do you regularly remove e-mails, files and server data? You should. It works great with a small internal challenge.
The beautiful side effect
With all the points mentioned above, you not only save energy and CO2, but also do something for your own data protection. Often ecologically better offers are also awesome in data protection. This is probably due to the fact that it is made from people who are a little more aware in creating their products. And want to change something. Think fresh. Just like you.
Agencies have to reposition themselves anyway to meet the market needs of the growing eco-community. If you also bring along private ecological values, all this will be very easy for you. Make an inventory. As we’re racing towards the end of the year it’s great anyway. Rethink your products. Ethics. Workflows.
If you liked the article, please feel free to share it with colleagues, co-workers and friends. It would help me a lot to make the topic better known and hopefully inspire more designers to create greener websites.
Enjoy the rest of the week!